Lifestyles of the Ancient Aztecs

Lifestyles of the Ancient Aztecs




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Lifestyles of the Ancient Aztecs


Ancient Aztec children were usually born with the help of a mid-wife. After the umbilical cord was cut, the mid-wife washed the baby and prayed to the water god Chalchiuhtlicue. Soon after the prayer the name of the child was announced. Most Aztec children survived on a strict diet of corn cakes and mothers milk. At the age of three the boys education was entrusted to his father. The father would teach him about gathering and carrying wood for the home. Growing vegetables in the floating gardens called chinampas was also learned. Then as they got a little older they learned about trade and the great marketplaces. In addition, Aztec boys were shown how to fish, hunt, and maneuver a canoe. The education with the father usually lasted until the age of fifteen. Likewise, little girls were educated by their mothers. From birth they watched their mothers spinning thread, weaving, and embroidering. It was not until they were six that they too could participate in the spinning of cotton. Next, they would learn how to grind the maize and clean the house. The very last thing that they would be taught was how to use the loom.

Boys dressed in a small cloak until the age of thirteen. Then, at the age of thirteen they were allowed to wear a loin-cloth. Girls dressed in blouses and skirts. The older they became the longer the skirts. All of the lower classes went barefoot. Laziness was severely punished. Some were allowed to attend school between the ages of six and nine years. At the age of fifteen, boys chose between two types of schools. Some might choose to become priests and they entered in the calmecac. Each temple had its own calmecac, and they all worshiped the god Quetzalcoatl. Quetzalcoatl was the god of self-sacrifice. Others may have chosen to enter the telpochcalli schools which were run by the master warriors. The telpochcalli produced ordinary citizens. Their god was Tezcatlipoca, the god of the night sky who protected his warriors.

The majority of homes were made of sun-dried brick. The house usually contained a room where the entire family slept, a small shrine room, and a kitchen that sat on the families courtyard. Bathrooms were built separately. When the families wealth increased, they added more rooms. Children passed the days playing in the courtyard. Most of the houses were very plain with whitewashed walls and little furnishings. All o f the homes were kept warm with wood fires. Bathing was done daily in the surrounding lakes and waterways. They didnít have soap, but instead they used the fruit of a tree and the root of another plant that worked just as well. Also, the Aztecs loved flowers, and flowers could be seen growing in their courtyards as well as on rooftops. In addition, family pets were very common. The average family had pet dogs, rabbits, turkeys, parrots, and macaws. Many of the dogs were raised, fattened, and eaten.


Discovery of Pulque, National Museum of Art, Mexico City